Category Archives: Shopping Experience

Tech Driving Customer Experience at SpartanNash

SpartanNash is leveraging GPS location technology to improve curbside service in its Fast Lane online grocery pickup program. According to a recent SupermarketNews article, a number of the chain’s locations are now using Radius Networks’ location-based FlyBuy Pickup service with ShopperKit’s in-store grocery fulfillment software to bring out Fast Lane orders to customers as soon as they arrive at the store.

Referenced as a “click-and-collect platform,” the process begins when a customer places a Fast Lane curbside order. The order is fulfilled and the customer is notified when their groceries are ready for pickup. The customer can then share their location via mobile apps or a web browser to let their Fast Lane personal shopper know they’re heading to the store. That allows customers’ orders to be prepared and delivered to their vehicles the moment they pull into the pickup area.

“This new technology will completely change our customers’ experience with Fast Lane,” said Brian Holt, vice president of marketing for SpartanNash.

“Fast Lane already provides exceptional customer service, with overall satisfaction scores 30 points higher than the national average, as well as some of the nation’s leading fulfillment rates. And our new GPS location technology will only improve the ease and speed of the Fast Lane experience.”

This is another good example of how today’s supermarkets are leveraging technology and continuous process improvement to drive customer service and the shopping experience.

Giant Eagle Pharmacy Customers: Just Ask Alexa!

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based food and drug chain, has formed an arrangement with Amazon’s Alexa virtual personal assistant to help keep pharmacy patients up to date on their medications. They are the first pharmacy retailer to offer the new medication management capability with Alexa.

The process appears to be straightforward, the article explains. “Under a collaboration with Amazon and medication management specialist Omnicell, Giant Eagle pharmacies now allow patients to set medication reminders and request prescription drug refills through Alexa. Users simply speak to an Amazon Echo device by saying ‘Alexa, manage my medication’ or “’lexa, refill my prescriptions,”’and the request is met using the patient’s prescription information at their designated Giant Eagle pharmacy.”

Aside from the associated convenience, the program’s objectives include helping people avoid non-adherence to prescription dosage plans (a major issue for some resulting in negative health care outcomes) and to simplify the refilling process.

“Integrating with Amazon Alexa makes it possible for patients to manage their medications by simply using voice, providing greater independence for older adults and the ultimate convenient, frictionless patient experience for everyone,” said Danny Sanchez, Vice President and General Manager of population health solutions at Omnicell.

Another example of how innovation and process improvement can enable grocery chains to enhance customer service and improve the supermarket shopping experience.

Enhanced Shopping Experience at Seattle’s PCC Community Markets

A recent SupermarketNews article shared an impressive slideshow about PCC Community Markets’ “new and improved” store in Seattle.

As you may know, PCC is one of Seattle’s original grocers and the largest community-owned food market in the United States. The retailer reopened its West Seattle store in Seattle unveiling a new 24,000-square-foot store that is nearly twice the size of the previous space.

With a focus on the shopping experience, the new store features many new offerings, including an expanded produce department, an outdoor patio, café, taqueria, pizzeria, and self-serve grain bowls.

This location is also is the first grocery store in the world to pursue Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification — the world’s most rigorous green building standard.

View slide show...

Schnucks Leverages Tech to Improve the Shopping Experience

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that St. Louis-based Schnucks has responded to customer feedback to help shoppers save time and more easily identify foods that are aligned with their dietary preferences.

The article quotes Schnucks Vice President of Marketing Ted Schnuck, “We heard our customers saying that they’re time-starved and also hungry for more health and wellness information. These new Schnucks Rewards features will make customers’ experiences in our stores more convenient and take the guesswork out of nutritional planning by placing wellness information right at their fingertips.”

The app shopping list organizes customers’ lists according to the layout of their designated Schnucks store and also makes it easier to identify pricing information. In addition, the wellness guide enables customers to see nutritional information and labels (i.e., heart smart or gluten-free, etc.), and indicates which products have been approved by various USDA programs.

Read the full article…

Forbes Was Right: 4 Ways Your Grocery Store Might Change this Year

This past December Forbes published an article suggesting we should expect to see more changes at the grocery store this year as the industry adapts to various competitive pressures and emerging shopping habits.

“The last year has been a trying one for supermarkets that face not only changing technology and consumer demands but heightened competition on price,” the article said.

The article predicted four key trends for 2018, which were:

  1. More online shopping options
  2. Mobile payment acceptance
  3. Meal kits
  4. In-store drinking and dining

At the half-way-or-so point, it seems these predictions are on track. And clearly all four predictions focus on improving processes as well as customer service and the shopping experience!

Guess we can all stay-tuned to see if these trends continue…

 

A New Era in Food Retail?

While possibly making less of a splash than the Amazon-Whole Foods deal,  Lindl US opened a new store in Virginia Beach, VA, signifying the beginning of what many have termed a new era in food retail.

According to a SupermarketNews article, hundreds of shoppers were waiting in a line that circled the parking lot early Thursday morning waiting for Lidl US to open the doors.

The big splash and anticipated disruption to the industry may be based on a number of factors, two of which truly stand out:

  1. Lindl US is committed to offering the lowest prices. “We will beat the best prices in the market,” Brendan Proctor, CEO says.
  2. Lindl US is basing decisions on the voice-of-the-customer. “It’s not about whether our model works in a market,” Proctor said during an interview. “It’s about what we have to do to adapt to the market.”

As they say, time will tell…

Artificial Intelligence Driving Faster Shopping Trips?

As you most likely are aware, Instacart provides shopping and home delivery in a variety of stores.

In an ongoing effort to generate more precise shopping trips — i.e., a faster way of shopping for its employees, who are shopping on behalf of customers — the San Francisco-based company has been testing various ways to determine how people might most efficiently shop for items on a list, ranging from:

  • an alphabetical list
  • a route-based approach
  • an artificial intelligence (AI) approach that uses data from the company’s most efficient shoppers to predict a sequence of picks that would be the most efficient

The article states that people are using AI to solve hard problems more and more… and the algorithms used for more traditional problem solving are not so different from those that can determine how a human would pick-up specified items in a store. In fact, Instacart is able to “guess” the next item a shopper will pick 60% of the time with the AI solution!

“It’s not 95%,” said Jeremy Stanley, VP of data science at Instacart. “But there’s room for variance and error. When we look at the overall sequence it mimics what the shopper does very closely, and usually only reverses a few items per trip.”

Might there be an application for using this AI approach for you and me to enhance our food shopping experience?

If so, how might retailers view this developing use of technology, considering it might make shoppers less susceptible to impulse buying because they will do less wandering through the aisles?

Service v Price in Supermarkets?

Various articles and reports are consistent: supermarket shoppers want more convenience and better service!

One SupermarketNews article reported how consumer demand for service impacted operations at Meijer and the curbside pickup option it launched in some stores in 2015. The article quotes Peter Whitsett, EVP of merchandising and marketing at Meijer, “…[data] has put a spotlight on the huge demand for convenience, and the challenge for the big retailer to wrestle it economically. As retailers we’ve done a reasonably good job of managing price for products, but what we’re learning to do is managing price for service.”

The piece goes on to explain that Meijer assumed curbside pick-up would primarily serve for fill-in trips, but the company soon realized they “were 180 degrees wrong. Customers said ‘do all my shopping for me.’”

Similarly, Euromonitor International, a world leader in strategic market research, published a white paper “The New Definition of Convenience in Retail,” which indicates that, “Thanks to time-pressed consumers, the need for convenience is paramount and retailers, in all channels, are deploying tactics to get consumers what they want as conveniently as possible.”

Of course, the convenience of online shopping and grocery delivery means different things to different people. For urbanites, many of whom opt to forgo car ownership, transportation to and from the supermarket might be the key issue. Yet for others, as noted above, time might be the driving force.

So, what does this mean for supermarkets?

First, as noted by Meijer’s Mr. Whitsett, supermarkets will need to go beyond managing price and find ways to streamline and improve the work processes for providing added services and convenience.

Secondly, online shopping is poised to become a bigger part of the overall grocery shopping equation going forward, and grocery providers must find ways to compete in this arena – against the likes of Amazon and Walmart, this will not be an easy task!

As noted in an article posted on fooddive.com, “Grocery retail value should be re-framed to emphasize non-price factors such as freshness, quality, customer service and the shopping experience. 2017 could become the year when retailers stop primarily selling products and instead start selling services, solutions, and quite possibly stellar shopping experiences.”

In-store v. On-line Shopping?

33% of all grocery shoppers will shop online this year, according to a recent article posted on retailcustomerexperience.com, which shared data from the 2017 Grocery eCommerce Forecast from Unata and in partnership with Brick Meets Click.

The article notes that ‘egrocery’ is gaining greater consumer attention and 31 percent of shoppers are likely to order online, up from 19 percent last year.

The article also states that seventy-five-percent of shoppers will switch grocers if there is a better shopping experience to be had, and sixty-eight percent of shoppers who had shopped online the previous year are “somewhat” or “very” likely to switch to a grocer offering a better online shopping experience.

However, when looking at retail in total, a Modern Consumer survey shows that fifty-six percent of U.S. consumers prefer a brick and mortar shopping channel, and 93 percent of customer journeys involve multiple channels. The survey, which polled 1,000 U.S. shoppers, also revealed that over seventy-percent browse for products online before buying in a physical store, and only 10 percent of shoppers mainly shop online.

So while it seems that shoppers in general lean more toward the in-store buying experience, many more leverage on-line shopping in advance and an increasing number of grocery shoppers are trending toward the on-line experience, at least some of the time.

“Quick” Customer Experience Analysis

As you most likely know, “Omnichannel” refers to a type of retail that integrates the different methods of shopping available to consumers (i.e., online, in-store, phone…).

While some say the concept is just a fancier way of describing cross-channel sales, others profess that “Omnichannel” goes further to encompass the continuity of the shopping or customer experience (CX).

To further illustrate this perspective, Todd Leach
VP, Client Insights at Service Management Group (SMG), an organization that focuses on customer and employee experience, writes that Omnichannel is changing consumer expectations and, in one of his blog posts, suggests that “speed” is high on the expectation list.

“Above all else, speed means seamless,” Leach says. “…and the idea of seamless is the root of an Omnichannel experience. Customer information must be available across multiple touch points throughout the customer journey to help make interactions with your brand both efficient and effective. Remembering a customer’s most-purchased items makes checkout a breeze…  a push notification lets them open your app when they come near a store… one-click check-out saves customers from having to give the same information over and over again. These small details make a huge difference in a smooth and efficient customer experience—and that translates to a favorable brand perception and a boost in customer loyalty.”

It seems the online and in-store experiences are merging to better serve customers. The question is, will this ongoing evolution and the associated impact on the customer experience also drive customer loyalty?